Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Once harm has been done, even a fool understands it.


South North
Both ♠ J 10 9 6 5
 3 2
 J 10 9 8
♣ 3 2
West East
♠ —
 A K 8 6 5 4
 A 7 6 3 2
♣ 5 4
♠ K 3 2
 Q 10
 5 4
♣ A Q J 8 7 6
♠ A Q 8 7 4
 J 9 7
 K Q
♣ K 10 9
South West North East
1♠ 2 Pass 3
Pass 4 4♠ Dbl.
All pass      


Here is one of Edgar Kaplan's favorite deals, from a duplicate pairs long ago. To appreciate it fully, cover up the East and West cards.

Against four spades doubled, West led the heart king, then played the ace and a third heart, hoping partner could overruff dummy. Kaplan, sitting East, could infer that West was void in spades and that four hearts would make 10 tricks. So the task at hand was for the defense to set declarer three tricks. When North played the third heart, declarer ruffed in dummy with the nine. Kaplan casually discarded the diamond five, apparently unable to overruff. Declarer now played a spade from dummy to his ace and was shocked when West discarded.

Declarer could do nothing but lead another spade. Kaplan won, played his last diamond, and obtained the diamond ruff for the necessary penalty of 800 and matchpoint top.

Of course, there was considerable discussion between North and South. South explained to his partner that despite all appearances to the contrary, he had heard of a finesse, but he argued that he could never play East for the king when he didn’t overruff the heart.

North had little sympathy for his partner, but 20-20 hindsight makes the game much easier. In my opinion it was a neat play and apt to work against almost anyone. However, it wouldn’t have succeeded against you or me. Or would it?

If you feel tempted to bid, expecting partner to hold the unbid suits, reconsider. Your partner passed over one club. Would he have done that with values and any kind of two-suiter? No, he wouldn't. This auction shows a respectable hand with a good club suit — virtually the only sort of good hand with which your partner would pass initially and then back into a live auction.


♠ J 10 9 6 5
 3 2
 J 10 9 8
♣ 3 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1
Pass 1 NT 2♣ Pass

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bill CubleySeptember 28th, 2012 at 2:18 am

However, it wouldn’t have succeeded against you or me.

Only if we were partners. 😉

bobby wolffSeptember 28th, 2012 at 5:34 am

Hi Bill,

Nice thought, if it was only thus.

However, if after seeing the wrong vulnerability with our side actually NV, and playing against someone who was taught to always finesse for the king with three out, regardless of the previous play, our brilliancy would turn to foolhearty which is often the description instead of daring, when some bold move does not work out.

Oh well, one fine day everyone of us will be written up for something, even if only for checking out.

Good luck and thanks for your positive comment.